The unprecedented verdict against a party head and thrice former prime minister of Pakistan disqualifies him for life. This means an end to Nawaz Sharif’s political career. The verdict has been welcomed by the opposition leaders and many Pakistanis who want an end to corruption in the political cadres and hope such decisions would prove a stepping stone for a culture of clean politics.
But will it be that?
The culture of corruption is deeply ingrained in Pakistan and its politics. 260 Pakistanis that received a mention in Panama papers, however, we hear no plans by the government and even from the quarters of the justice to take most on. Moreover, if article 62, 63 is applied to parliamentarians, most would allegedly not qualify as Sadiq or Amin due to the unclearness of the terms.
While PML-N and its office-bearers have taken a jingoistic tone against the verdict, Jahangir Tareen, who has also been disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, has borne a different tenor. Without challenging the verdict outright, he has set his sight on the JIT review of his case and sees his case vastly different from Sharif he still stands a chance.
Nawaz Sharif’s 3-decade long legacy is laced with alleged opportunism that built an empire for him, his family and supporters. And while Sharif and his children had little or shady evidence to prove their innocence, amassing evidence against them had been a gargantuan task for the courts and Joint Investigative Team as well. The recent verdict has also been a cruncher for political analysts who fear that speaking out for democratic values runs the risk for supporting shady practices of the ruling political party. But is imperative nevertheless.
Political and constitutional analysts have argued that much-criticised article 62 and 63 when seen with article 17, guaranteeing a fundamental right to association, of the constitution shouldn’t be lifetime disqualification.
Sans Nawaz, the July general elections could be an uphill task for his political successor Shahbaz Sharif. Questions are in the air: will the party perish with the name of its political mentor? The only choice and a hard one at that would be that the party contest and win the elections and then proceed to take down the article 62, 63 and reinstate Nawaz.
This will be do or die elections for PML-N.